Highlights: We’re Famous! Small Worlds and Monica Lewinsky

vancouver new york times
Look! Little Vancouver, Canada on the front page of the New York Times! Whoo-hoo!

You know I love to read about Vancouver, so imagine my happiness when I realized: there must be a global audience for this! Look – a story about the kids with fancy cars was on the cover of the New York Times!

For all its growth and change, Vancouver is still a small town (so, you know, be careful who you fuck over). More than once, I’ve complained about something, and the person I’ve complained to has said: “Oh, that’s my neighbour’s company.”

That’s right: it’s small enough that you sometimes have to rein in your inner bitch.

It’s small enough that if you read a story about someone, you might later catch a glimpse of that person in a coffee shop, or driving somewhere, or they’re friends with someone you volunteered with at the Aquarium on Facebook (we all love the otters). Reading about someone in the New York Times, and not just on some local news blog? Trippy!

There was lots to read this week!

That Law – so fluid!

  • In Canada, a fascinating case is being heard right now, which we have been following closely. A little boy died of meningitis, and his parents, who treated his illness with herbal remedies, are accused of failing to provide the necessities of life to their son.

On parenting:

  • Why eating dinner together, as a family, is beneficial.
  • Is Domestic Life the Enemy of Creative Work? I didn’t identify with the writer’s concerns – I’ve never romanticized “self-destructive artistic genius” types. Many of the authors the writer mentions I actively didn’t like (Hemingway is overrated), and I can think of several productive creative people who have happy home lives. Ahem. But I did laugh to learn this:

Faulkner’s 12-year-old daughter once asked him to not drink on her birthday, and he refused, telling her, “No one remembers Shakespeare’s children.”

I read a couple of popular blogs regularly. The other day, clicking through one of the blogger’s instagram profiles, I felt sad. Not because she didn’t have a nice life, but because it was small – her lovely little home and family. The photos inspired a mild case of ennui; I wanted the world to be bigger.

The internet can make the world big – the numbers seem huge! (so many readers, so many shares, so many followers) – and yet, each of our lives is so little. Often we read blogs because we yearn for some connection or expansion, and bloggers write because they want that too. The internet can give one little voice a very big soapbox – suddenly thousands of people know about some obscure aspect of your life, and they may forget that your life is just as little as their own. (Only 4 people read this blog. Thank you, readers!).

Perhaps this is why I found the New York Times article about our city so trippy: not only because it’s a surprise to me that this local trend is news-worthy (There’s not a whole group of young Chinese kids racing around in luxury cars in your town?!), but also because the New York Times is official. It’s where I turn when I want to be expanded.

Yet, the world is small. On a good day, this is comforting. On a bad day, it’s depressing.

This interview with Monica Lewinsky, who now speaks about online bullying, was thought-provoking. Much of it I agreed with: how horrible it would be to be caught up in a sex scandal at such a young age! To have your name and face stigmatized before you’re even 27! But some of it, I disagreed with. Such as this point:

Back then, the world basically saw Lewinsky as the predator. Late-night talkshow hosts routinely made misogynistic jokes, with Jay Leno among the cruellest: “Monica Lewinsky has gained back all the weight she lost last year. [She’s] considering having her jaw wired shut but then, nah, she didn’t want to give up her sex life.” And so on.

Doesn’t it give you pause? Seeing a “joke” that mean-spirited in writing?

My parents are conservative: they did not like Bill Clinton. I’m too young to have had an opinion, but can offer some insight into conservative thinking at the time. To people who’d never liked Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky was certainly no predator: she was the 25-year-old victim of a man who was so weak-willed and undisciplined that he never should have been elected. Think: “We knew something like this would happen: the man cannot keep his pants up.” My mother didn’t even like that a President would take his jacket off inside the Oval Office, much less disrespect the office so wholly as to break his marriage vows in the actual room. “He is not fit to be the leader.”

So I suspect very few die-hard Republicans saw Lewinsky as the predator. It was hardly “the world” who saw her that way – it may actually just have been disillusioned Clinton supporters.

Of course, those who didn’t like Bill Clinton aren’t wholly right either. As an adult, I wonder how young Ms. Lewinsky’s self-consciousness about her body influenced her. What 23-year-old girl doesn’t want to be attractive? Maybe you were bullied in highschool, but now you’re flirting with the President! He’s charming and powerful, you’re lonely, it’s thrilling – you think “maybe his wife is frigid”. She wouldn’t be the first insecure young woman to sleep with a married man. For President Clinton – he probably loved the adoration. He sought adoration – it’s likely why he went into public office in the first place.

Flaws all-around.

Fascinating, right? To see the those flaws meet, make a mess and explode on the world stage? And then for that mess to draw out the worst traits in all those around you – reporters, comedians, public thinkers? Small people, epic mess!

Perhaps the entire world is so small we should all learn to rein in our inner bitches.